An Opinion By Jan Bergemann 
President, Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc. 

Published October 23, 2010 


When listening to the so-called "business leaders," one can only wonder. None of them, to my knowledge, claimed to be a direct descendant of Einstein, but they love to call themselves business leaders -- claiming to run successful businesses.


Under "successful business" I don't understand a business that needs stimulus money to stay afloat -- handouts paid from taxpayers' money.


But instead of using the money for economic growth -- as intended -- they use part of that money to donate it to a group with a Machiavellian name of "Citizens for Lower Taxes and a Stronger Economy.”  That group was created by special business interest and is aimed at fighting AMENDMENT 4 -- a constitutional amendment that would give Florida's voters the right to vote on changes to the comprehensive land use plans in their direct neighborhoods.


It's an insult to taxpayers that their money is being used to fight against their own right to vote on changes they later have to pay for -- or changes that may destroy what's left of their property values.


But the leadership of the Florida Association of Realtors (FAR) absolutely takes the cake among these “business leaders”!  Many of their members are going bankrupt and have to dismiss their employees, but FAR donates $4.285+ million to a cause that does exactly the opposite of what is needed to help FAR's members. Never before in Florida 's history have there ever been such huge numbers of empty homes and condos.  There is a huge inventory of homes owned by banks and mortgage companies on the market -- and realtors are flooded by requests from owners desperately wanting to sell their homes and condos.


What's missing?  The potential buyers, the families to move into these homes and condos.  Instead of wasting huge amounts of money to advertise against an Amendment that is supposed to help stop overbuilding and growth mismanagement -- the cause for Florida's dead real estate market -- the Florida Association of Realtors and its committees "donated" to the cause pushed by developers (without asking its membership).   The cause was The Vote No on 4 Campaign, led by a group with the ridiculous name of "Citizens for Lower Taxes and a Stronger Economy" -- a group whose members are exactly the same ones that had caused Florida 's financial downfall and dead real estate market.


The records published by the Florida Division of Elections show that the FLORIDA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS have donated so far $ 4,285,160.00 (see list below) -- about 1/3 of all the donations collected by this Political Action Committee (PAC), that actually serves developers and land owners. Developers used stimulus money -- included in the Worker, Homeownership and Business Assistance Act of 2009, financed by us taxpayers -- to pay for their donations to the cause trying to avoid citizens having the right to vote on the fate of their direct neighborhood. They rather want to keep the old "Pay To Play" method, because it's a lot easier to bribe a few commissioners -- or fill their campaign coffers -- than to convince a whole neighborhood that a 24-floor high-rise is much better for the neighborhood than the old, outdated golf curse!

Maybe its time for the leaders of FAR to refresh their knowledge regarding fundamentals of BUSINESS 101:

If your business has a large unsold inventory, you spend your advertising money to find buyers for the inventory -- not for advertising to get an even bigger stockpile of inventory!

But I guess FAR leadership must have missed that course in college!  Otherwise there is no explanation for their incompetent business decision that was criticized by many of their members now fighting for financial survival.  FAR members can't understand why this money is not brought to a use that actually helps FAR members dealing with the financial problems of a dead real estate market.

Money is scarce in the FAR coffers.  Realtors’ association lobbyist John Sebree said in reports published Aug. 24, 2010 that the BP money "might not go terribly far." Remember, FAR received a $16 million settlement from the BP Gulf oil spill. FAR leadership should rather consider supporting its members in a time of need instead of wasting money on a fight against the citizens' right to vote on development issues that could cost them higher property taxes and decrease their property values even more. Nobody ever claimed that there are descendants of Einstein among the FAR leaders, but a little common sense would go a long way.

This whole AMENDMENT 4 campaign clearly shows one fact: It's a lot more expensive to spread lies than to state facts. It's a shame that all this money is being wasted for a cause pursuing POWER and GREED. But isn't that what it’s all about for the opponents of Amendment 4?







03/16/2010 Florida Gulfcoast Committee $           250.00


Florida Association of Realtors $ 1,000,000.00 


Florida Association of Realtors $        4,210.00 
07/30/2010 Realtors Political Action Committee  $        1,000.00


Florida Association of Realtors $    750,000.00
09/13/2010 Florida Association of Realtors $        4,210.00 
09/16/2010 Realtors Political Action Committee  $        3,000.00


Florida Association of Realtors $    500,000.00
09/29/2010 Realtors Political Action Committee $        2,500.00


Florida Association of Realtors $ 1,250,000.00


Florida Association of Realtors  $      17,490.00


Florida Association of Realtors  $    750,000.00


Political Issues Committee $        2,500.00
TOTAL DONATIONS FROM FAR (or its committees) $ 4,285,160.00

This is a list of donations accumulated from the campaign finance report!



Source: Citizens for Lower Taxes & A Stronger Economy PAC


Money from Worker, Homeownership and Business Assistance Act of 2009

Lennar Homes FL  $ 367,000 $ 251.1 million
Meritage Homes $   34,000  $   93.0 million
M.D.C. Holdings $   39,000 $ 142.6 million
Standard Pacific of Tampa $ 132,000 $ 103.0 million
Pulte Homes $ 567,000  $ 800.0 million
Ryland Homes   $ 135,000      $   97.6 million
KB Homes     $ 255,000 $ 191.7 million
K. Hovnanian Companies  $  96,000 $ 250 to $275 million
Beazer Homes $  75,000 $ 101.0 million
M/I Homes $  73,000 $   31.0 million
Toll Brothers $  43,000 $   78.8 million
MDC Holdings $  39,000 $ 142.6 million




BE IT ENACTED BY THE PEOPLE OF FLORIDA THAT: Article II, Section 7. Natural resources and scenic beauty of the Florida Constitution is amended to add the following subsection:

Public participation in local government comprehensive land use planning benefits the conservation and protection of Florida 's natural resources and scenic beauty, and the long-term quality of life of Floridians. Therefore, before a local government may adopt a new comprehensive land use plan, or amend a comprehensive land use plan, such proposed plan or plan amendment shall be subject to vote of the electors of the local government by referendum, following preparation by the local planning agency, consideration by the governing body as provided by general law, and notice thereof in a local newspaper of general circulation. Notice and referendum will be as provided by general law. This amendment shall become effective immediately upon approval by the electors of Florida.

For purposes of this subsection:

1.       "Local government" means a county or municipality.

2.       "Local government comprehensive land use plan" means a plan to guide and control future land development in an area under the jurisdiction of a local government.

3.       "Local planning agency" means the agency of a local government that is responsible for the preparation of a comprehensive land use plan and plan amendments after public notice and hearings and for making recommendations to the governing body of the local government regarding the adoption or amendment of a comprehensive land use plan.

4.       "Governing body" means the board of county commissioners of a county, the commission or council of a municipality, or the chief elected governing body of a county or municipality, however designated.